The Tejano actress tells TooFab how meaningful it was to take part in "Dora and the Lost City of Gold," a film that not only celebrates the Hispanic language, but also revels in its culture.
Eva Longoria took on the role of playing Dora the Explorer's mom in Nickelodeon's live-action adaption of the animated series just two months after giving birth to Santiago Bastón because she "didn't really have a choice."
TooFab had the opportunity to sit down with the Tejano actress and her on-screen husband, Michael Peña, to chat about just how meaningful it was for them to take part in "Dora and the Lost City of Gold," a film that not only celebrates the Hispanic language, but also revels in its culture.
"I loved Dora," Eva told us. "She was a global icon, I mean, an icon in our community; I didn't realize she was a global icon in the world. My friends from London called me and Germany, and they were like, 'Oh, my God! You're gonna be Dora's mom!' So I was really, really excited. And then I read the script, and I thought, 'Oh, my gosh! They really nailed this adaption of the cartoon.'"
Michael, whose parents emigrated from Mexico, agreed wholeheartedly.
"When you hear about a movie, like an adaptation of a TV show, I was interested for sure, but you don't know what the execution's gonna be like, so obviously the fact that the director is a great director, and he's tackled this kind of material before, is awesome," he told us. "But then, like [Eva] said, once I read the script, I thought, 'Oh, this is gonna be super fun and it's gonna be positive and it's a Latin-led cast."
"A lot of pros to do it," Eva added, but for her, there were seemingly way more cons to taking on the project. After all, she was a new and first-time mom when she agreed to fly to Australia, where the film was shot, in order to portray Elena.
"I didn't really have a choice," she said. "I could've said no, but I couldn't. I literally could not have said no to this movie. The opportunity that this movie provided, not only for me, but for my community and for people who look like me, I was like, I have to do this movie."
"And I remember freaking out, going, 'How am I gonna do this movie?!'" she continued, noting she eventually just had to pull the trigger and say, "'We're gonna do this. We're taking the family, we're taking everybody to Australia, and we're gonna do this. And you guys are gonna be there, and you're gonna support me, and you're gonna be happy, and you're gonna like it!'"
While Santiago, who she shares with husband José Bastón, is too young to have grown up watching Dora, Michael's son, Roman Peña, is not.
"My kid did grow up [watching Dora], and he loved the movie!" Michael told us. "He was laughing. He's at camp, so we saw it in a preview, but he was laughing. I made sure to sit right by him. I mean, that's the reason to do these movies, for your kids and for audiences like that and for his friends as well."
Eva explained that Spanish was not her first language, despite the fact that her parents are both Mexican. She said when she was growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, the idea was to speak "English only. English, English, English."
"There's definitely, in our generation, this idea to assimilate," she said, looking at Michael. "And now, I think there's more celebration of returning to our language. Bilingual is better than monolingual, you know? When is two not better than one?"
"I learned Spanish late in life, and we're definitely raising Santi in a Spanish household," she added, "because he'll get English from school and society, but Spanish will be his home language."
Even though Spanish was Michael's first language, he had an experience similar to Eva's.
"I had parents that very much wanted to learn English, so my mom was at night school," he explained. "She was working in a factory, and then she was going to night school to finish high school here. And same thing with my dad. So at home, after a while, I think it was at 4 years old, we just started speaking English in the house. It was the cutest thing ever to see my mom making progress with years to come. And then she was fluent."
"Dora and the Lost City of Gold" hits theaters August 9.